Team Pace Off. Eff. eFG% FT/FG ORB% TOR
Dallas 89.0 101.1 48.1 17.7 26.7 15.7
Boston 95.5 48.4 35.9 6.1 16.9
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- No recap of this game would be complete without proper documentation of the bucket (and free throw!) that brought about its conclusion:
The Mavs’ offense on the whole isn’t looking all that impressive, but Dallas’ immediate scoring future is looking brighter based on one simple fact: Dirk Nowitzki (16 points, 7-11 FG, seven rebounds, four assists) has progressed beyond polishing his ability to hit open shots and moved right on to practicing — and making — the impossible ones. This functional game-winner was generated by a wonderful drive, but the fact that Nowitzki was able to convert the layup rather than merely draw a foul is indicative of just how special of a player Dirk is. Nowitzki manufactured a few open looks throughout the game after faking out his defender, but his second half was particularly notable for his run-ins with impossibility.
- Dallas’ centers each had a terrific game in their own way. Brendan Haywood’s (eight points, 11 rebounds) success came by way of dominant rebounding effort (Seriously. Boston managed just a 6.1 offensive rebounding rate.), good defense, and completely unexpected poise; he didn’t flounder in traffic or shuffle his feet when faced with defensive pressure, but employed a more patient approach that allowed him to get to the free throw line for eight attempts. On Ian Mahinmi’s (eight points, 4-5 FG, six rebounds) end, it was — yet again — all hands, coordination, and hustle. Observe:
- Jason Terry (18 points, 7-16 FG, 3-8 3FG, four steals) will undoubtedly receive the most praise for his late-game shot making, but I can’t say enough about how well he defended Ray Allen on Wednesday. Chasing Allen is one of the league’s most thankless tasks; his defender is constantly forced to expend energy, has precious few opportunities for steals or blocks against Allen’s lightning quick catch and release, and is only really noticed when Allen becomes curiously open for a three-point attempt. JET took on the task — in addition to his offensive responsibilities, which included handling the ball against hellhounds Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley — and chased Allen into a nine-point performance. Beautiful defensive work by a player who, for all his flaws, really does make consistent efforts to improve his D.
- Allen wasn’t the only conspicuously quiet Boston star. Paul Pierce contributed just seven points on two-of-five shooting, and try as I might to determine the ingenious stratagem that allowed the Mavs to fully contain the Celtics two most potent scorers, I could only come up with the following:Have one defender chase Allen, and another who is long enough to contest Pierce’s shot, strong enough to battle him for position, and disciplined enough to not bite on his shot fakes. Or, essentially, to have a quick guard with good wind and Shawn Marion. Or LeBron James. Beyond that? Good luck.
- I’ve interpreted the Mavs’ early statistical success on the defensive end (they ranked as the NBA’s 11th best defense coming into Wednesday’s game) as a bit of a sample size error; Dallas has had some strong defensive performances, but there’s certainly evidence (their misleading defensive numbers against San Antonio and Miami, favorable matchups against poor offenses, etc.) to suggest that the D may not be as good as the current data indicates. After Wednesday’s game, I’m a bit more open to the possibility that this season may be — somewhat inexplicably — a campaign championed by defense. That doesn’t mean that will necessarily be the case, but simply that Dallas is starting to build up a decent defensive résumé.